Shonda Rimes has a wonderful new book called "A Year of Yes", where she talks about being fearless enough to answer yes to new adventures. The loss of my sweet husband Peter has forced me to create my own opposite book -- "A Year of No." I have learned that in my journey of grief I have to be good to myself and that means saying no. I have never been good at saying no, but I am perfecting this technique like a pro.
Now that I am giving no a chance, I have discovered there are various forms of no. There is the direct no, which I used recently. A friend asked me to chair a meeting for an organization while she was away. I was so surprised to hear a resounding no, coming out of my mouth. She kept persisting and I answered no again and a third time too! It felt good. I know I am not up to being in charge. I will one day soon but now, no is the best answer for me.
Then there is the thoughtful no, where you acknowledge the ask, but still decline. I was invited to a screening of a sad movie the other night. I replied that the movie sounded interesting but I don't do sad movies now. Give me a good Sandra Bullock movie and I am content. It just doesn't get better than "Miss Congeniality" for comfort.
How about the reasoned no? When asked if I would attend a big charity event or even a party, I replied that I am was not ready to do this and added that I might cry and break down as I did once before. I tell the hosts in the politest way possible, that it is too hard for me now. This is a reasoned no. I have set reasonable boundaries gracefully.
There is also the mediator's no. An example of this is if someone asks me to come to a party, I might reply: "I will come but I might have to leave early." The mediator's no allows for negotiations and the answer is on my own terms.
Right now my favorite way to say no is the deferred no. This is the safest way out of any situation. I simply answer an invitation with "sounds great but I will let you know as soon as I have thought it over." This puts the ball back in my court and I have time to think about saying no, or perhaps yes. Who knows?
The late Steve Jobs once said: "Focus is about saying no." That is my current mantra. I have to be a little bit selfish to help myself heal. I say no as respectfully as I can and I know my squad and my good friends will understand.
"No is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation." -- Anne Lamott